Content Marketing. You’ve heard about it. You’ve consumed content about it, but what is it exactly? Content marketing is about connecting brands with audiences. Where traditional marketing is all about getting consumers to buy something, to feel something, to do something, content marketing is about creating and curating relevant content that provides value to consumers – the “soft sell” of digital marketing, if you will.
I don’t know about you, but my Facebook and Twitter feeds have taken on a new role in my life. Going beyond the occasional high school friend update to a stream of content from publishers (and sometimes brands) that actually provide value. And to me, value means information or entertainment that I want to share with others. Shareable content (especially video) results in more impressions, which means more exposure for your brand.
Content marketing is often the answer to creating that shareable content that provides value to consumers. To do this, some brands are utilizing content “hubs” to house content and leveraging social media as a distribution channel. For example, Coca-Cola Journey is a digital magazine (aka content hub) that focuses on news and information related to Coca-Cola, but without the “buy Coke” hard sell. It features exclusive videos and timely articles such as “10 Family Friendly Activities for Autumn”—with a more subtle Coke connection. The value to consumers is in the form of interesting, timely content, and the value to Coca-Cola is the brand exposure and potential content shareability.
Another content marketing tactic that is popular among brands these days is sponsoring editorial content within established publications. Trends indicate that consumers don’t discriminate against sponsored content as long as it is clearly identified as sponsored, matches the publisher’s editorial tone, and is relevant to that readership.
In a boon to brands’ content marketing, consumers are learning they can get quality storytelling through untraditional means. As mentioned in an article on Contently:
In the case of the [New York] Times, the posts that produced the highest levels of engagement were documentary-style in nature, offering a behind-the-scenes look at a unique environment: Think profiles of New York City Ballet dancers, like those in the Cole Haan–sponsored “Grit and Grace,” or the popular “Women Inmates: Why the Male Model Doesn’t Work.” Though the latter was commissioned by Netflix to promote the series Orange Is the New Black, “Women Inmates” ranked in the Times’ top 1,000 articles last year.
But with all this content, what is the return? Relevant content, in particular video content, doesn’t just encourage sharing, but increases inbound links and conversion rates. For example, marketing software company Moz reported that publishing video content on its website generated three times as many inbound links as content that was text only. Additionally, a report created by Vidyard and Demand Metric found that 71 percent of marketers noted that video drove higher conversion rates than other forms of content.
Content marketing is definitely becoming a popular and pervasive strategy for many brands—and, typically, when everyone is doing it, it loses some effectiveness. But as long as the content brands create and the methods by which they deliver it make sense for target audiences, I think this is a strategy with staying power.